KOF-i is the iPhone version of the popular fighting franchise. How do the controls hold up on the touch screen?
Let me start off by saying that KOF-i looks great on the small screen, and the personality of it's big brother definitely carries over. The characters all talk to each other before each round (via skippable text dialog boxes) and talk shit, like making fun of Mai's outfit. That's good news for fans of the series. What's not so good news, is that playing a stick and button fighter on the touch-screen iPhone is not a pleasant experience. There are two major problems with playing this way. First, your fingers obscure part of the screen. Admittedly, I've got pretty giant hands so this may be a bigger problem for me than most, but it's still a bit of bummer. Second, since the stick is virtual, there's no feel for when you get to the end of its motion, and if your thumb strays too far outside of the joystick area of the screen, the stick snaps back to a neutral position.
I would have loved to see some innovation in this aspect of the game, perhaps detecting that your finger was still on the screen above or to the side of the stick would keep it locked to that side, or some vibration when you hit the edge, anything really. What we get instead is a prompt to "perform 3 jumps" or 3 rolls or a 3 hit combo. WooHoo!
There are a few game modes, a one-on-one arcade mode and a three-on-three arcade mode, plus a bluetooth vs mode if you have a buddy with the game too. This doesn't work as well as a DS or PSP which use wifi, as bluetooth has a very limited range (they'd have to be right next to you basically) so there's little hope at finding a random match even at a fighting games convention such as EVO (I tried).
You can perform specials the old fashioned way, or you can just hold a direction on the stick and press the virtual "S" button. Supers are performed by tapping the super-meter bar at the top of the screen, this causes you to move your fingers from the virtual buttons and with no tactile feedback, can be hit-or miss. Similarly, to perform the level 3 moves you tap your characters face next to the life bar. Trying to mix these into a combo or perform a max cancel is therefore, not that easy.
KOF-i is available on the iTunes App Store for $7.99. It's a fun diversion, and if you're a huge KOF fan with an iPhone, you probably already have it. For everyone else, there are better games priced at 99 cents for the iPhone, so I can't recommend a buy on this. If it every goes on sale for 99 cents, you might want to pick it up, or better yet, wait for KOF XIII on the consoles.
Verdict: Rent It